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Personal Finance News 10/2011

Gov't report: Fannie knew of 'robo-signing' in '03 (AP)
AP - Mortgage giant Fannie Mae knew about allegations of improper foreclosure practices by law firms in 2003 but did not act to stop them, a government watchdog says.

APNewsBreak: Obama seeks debt collector proposal (AP)
AP - To the dismay of consumer groups and the discomfort of Democrats, President Barack Obama wants Congress to make it easier for private debt collectors to call the cellphones of consumers delinquent on student loans and other billions owed the federal government.

Fed's Raskin: Reforms needed in mortgage practices (Reuters)
Reuters - The U.S. economy is still suffering from a "shocking" drop in homeowners' equity and reforms are needed in how mortgage loans are originated and handled, Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin said on Tuesday.

The Coming No Jobs Market Rally (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - The September jobs report looms large. And if the September jobs number due out this Friday is another goose egg (or worse), one would expect another sharp market decline. But that might not be the case this time or, at least, it shouldn't.

Bank of America to shut down lending division (AP)
AP - Bank of America is closing down one of its mortgage units.

BofA to close correspondent mortgage lending unit (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp said Tuesday it will close its correspondent mortgage lending business by the end of the year after failing to find a buyer for the operation.

Occupying Wall Street Is Serious Business (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - "What do we want?" "500 different things!" "When do we want it?" "Nowish!" -- @TheTweetofGod

Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

30-year mortgage below 4 pct. for first time ever (AP)
AP - The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage this week fell below 4 percent for the first time ever, to 3.94 percent.

Creative Destruction in the Housing Market (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - At a conference in Vancouver, Canada, last summer, a moderator asked apocalyptic analyst Doug Casey what the solution to our economic mess was. "Explosives," he replied. It echoed a theme put forth by former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon during the Great Depression. "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate. ... It will purge the rottenness out of the system," Mellon famously said in 1931.

30-yr mortgage drops below 4 pct for first time (Reuters)
Reuters - Interest rates on 30-year U.S. mortgages fell below 4 percent for the first time this week, helping those with access to credit but doing little for the millions who owe more than their homes are worth.

No More "Made in China"? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT - News) recently unveiled a new ad campaign: "Low Prices. Every Day. On Everything." But "Rising Prices. Every Day. On Everything." might more accurately describe Wal-Mart's price policy if the flow of Chinese goods dries up.

Summary Box: Mortgage rate on 30-year below 4 pct. (AP)
AP - NEW RECORD: Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week to 3.94 percent from 4.01 percent. That's the lowest ever and the first time rates on the loan have fallen below 4 percent in history.

Ready to refinance? Here's how, if you qualify (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest levels ever, making this a golden opportunity to refinance.

Consumer credit drops in August (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. consumer credit posted its largest decline since April 2010 in August, according to a Federal Reserve report on Friday that suggested consumers were reluctant to hold more debt.

Consumer borrowing dropped $9.5 billion in August (AP)
AP - Consumers slashed their borrowing in August by the most in 16 months. The drop suggests many worried about taking on new debt while the economy slumped and the stock market fluctuated wildly.

A Million Reasons Why Investors Should Love the iPhone 4S (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Remember that initial reaction of disappointment that many -- myself included -- had when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL - News) unveiled the iPhone 4S?

Paulson faces big test as clients mull future (Reuters)
Reuters - Hedge fund manager John Paulson, long lionized for his successful bets on the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and the surge in gold prices, is now facing the toughest challenge of his career.

Deep Scars From a Brutal Recession (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - In a 2009 interview, Bill Bonner of Agora Financial described the difference between a recession and a depression. "In a recession, you have growth, and then the economy runs too hot, and then it has got to cool down for a while," he said. "And when it's cooling down, people get laid off. And then when it warms up again, they get hired back at the same jobs and things go on. But that's not what's happening now. People are not getting laid off. They're getting fired. And they're fired permanently because the jobs are not just cooling off; those jobs are disappearing."

Analysis - Bank of America's mortgage market share plunges (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America is set to lose nearly all the mortgage market share it gained by buying Countrywide Financial Corp in 2008, in the latest sign of how painful the acquisition has been for the bank.

Mortgage bankers grapple with consumer outrage (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. mortgage bankers attending an industry conference in Chicago this week received something they did not originally bargain for -- a heavy dose of the consumer anger against the financial system that has boiled into protest rallies across the country.

Mortgage applications rose last week: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week as demand grew for both purchases and refinancing even as interest rates rose, an industry group said on Wednesday.

Slovak parties reach deal on euro rescue fund (Reuters)
Reuters - Parties in Slovakia's fallen government struck a deal with the leftist opposition on Wednesday to ratify a plan to bolster the euro zone's rescue fund by Friday, effectively ending a crisis that had threatened the currency's main safety net.

Gross' PIMCO makes a big move into mortgages (Reuters)
Reuters - Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund, ramped up buying of mortgage-backed securities in September on the likelihood the Federal Reserve's reinvestment program in those securities will boost prices significantly.

JPMorgan Chase's income falls 4 percent in 3Q (AP)
AP - JPMorgan Chase's third-quarter income fell 4 percent on weaker investment banking and trading results and a loss in its private equity division. The bank also set aside $1 billion for litigation tied to poorly-written mortgage loans and securities.

Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

Stocks for the Long, Long Run (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - "Oh, you're meeting with Jeremy Siegel tomorrow? Lucky you," a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School told me. "You'll leave feeling much better about your investments than when you entered," he said with a laugh and a hint of sarcasm.

Postal union hires former White House official (Reuters)
Reuters - The largest U.S. postal union has hired a former Obama administration official who oversaw the 2009 auto manufacturers bailout as a financial advisor while the struggling U.S. Postal Service restructures.

Chuck Talks to Profits (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Investors may sometimes hate market volatility, but Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW - News) eats it up.

Officials, banks to tackle mortgage refinancing plan: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Officials and big banks are working on a plan that would make refinancing available to some borrowers whose houses are worth less than their loans, so long as they are current on mortgage payments, the Wall Street Journal reported.

BofA seeks to oust AIG law firm from $10 billion case (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp asked a judge to disqualify the law firm representing AIG in the insurance company's $10 billion mortgage-fraud lawsuit against the bank, alleging a conflict of interest by one of the firm's partners.

Everyone Believes It, but Most Will Be Wrong (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - The headline was too much to resist: "Analyst says stocks may fall another 50%."

Mortgage applications slumped last week: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Applications for U.S. home mortgages tumbled nearly 15 percent last week as demand for both refinancing and purchases evaporated, while interest rates climbed, an industry group said on Wednesday.

Instant view: CPI rises; housing starts up 15 percent (Reuters)
Reuters - Consumer prices outside food and energy rose less than expected in September to post their smallest gain in six months, a government report showed on Wednesday, suggesting inflation pressures remained contained.

September housing starts up 15 percent (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. housing starts surged in September at their fastest annual pace in 17 months on a big increase in groundbreaking for multi-family units, while permits for future construction fell.

Nasdaq set to drop after Apple profit miss (Reuters)
Reuters - The Nasdaq was set to fall on Wednesday after technology heavyweight Apple missed earnings expectations, while the other big indexes looked to open little changed after a run-up in the last session on a report Europe would beef up its crisis fund.

Home building jumps 15 percent in September (AP)
AP - Homes were built in September at the fastest pace in 17 months, a hopeful sign for the economy.

Citigroup to pay $285 million to settle fraud case (Reuters)
Reuters - Citigroup Inc will pay $285 million to settle charges that it defrauded investors who bought toxic housing-related debt that the bank bet would fail, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday.

Citigroup paying $285M to settle SEC fraud charges (AP)
AP - Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle civil fraud charges that it misled buyers of complex mortgage investment just as the housing market was starting to collapse.

Summary Box: Home construction jumped in September (AP)
AP - SEPTEMBER RISE: Home builders started projects in September at the fastest pace in 17 months.

Summary Box: Citi paying $285M to settle charges (AP)
AP - CITI SETTLES CHARGES: Citigroup is paying $285 million to settle civil fraud charges of misleading buyers of a complex mortgage investment just as the housing market was starting to collapse.

Occupy Wall Street? Why Not Occupy a Job? (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - COMMENTARY | Yes, I have student loans. Am I mad about that? No. Because I chose to go to college. Do I think college should be given to me? No. It's something you work for. It's something you earn. Don't want to have to pay for it? Study hard and get scholarships. It's not my (or any taxpayers') fault you decided to be an art history major and during a recession you can't "find a job."

Citigroup paying $285M to settle SEC fraud charges (AP)
AP - Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle civil fraud charges that it misled buyers of a complex mortgage investment just as the housing market was starting to collapse.

Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates for the past 52 weeks, at a glance

California subpoenas BofA over mortgages: report (Reuters)
Reuters - The California attorney general's office subpoenaed Bank of America Corp this week about the sale and marketing of troubled mortgage-backed securities to investors in the state, the Los Angeles Times reported.

New housing plan expected soon: Congress aide (Reuters)
Reuters - The Obama administration and the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to unveil new steps to help distressed homeowners in the next week or two, a senior congressional aide said on Thursday.

Fed official says more bond purchases may needed (AP)
AP - A voting member of the Federal Reserve's policy-making committee on Thursday called for the central bank to consider buying mortgage bonds again as a way to spur economic growth.

Fed debate about more easing heats up (Reuters)
Reuters - Two top Federal Reserve officials are arguing the U.S. central bank should consider resuming controversial large-scale mortgage bond purchases to support a fragile economic recovery.

Senate backs plan to help Americans buy homes (Reuters)
Reuters - The Senate on Thursday backed a measure to help bolster the housing market by making it easier for people to afford a home in wealthier neighborhoods.

AIG loses bid to move $10 billion fraud case vs BofA (Reuters)
Reuters - A federal judge has rejected American International Group Inc's request to move its $10 billion mortgage fraud lawsuit against Bank of America Corp back to a New York state court, where it was originally filed, from federal court.

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